When I started this blog a few years ago one of the first blog posts I published was about the publishing journey I had taken up to that point to get the first book in my Ascension Legacy series released. Now, after the release of the third book in the series, I am looking at new publishing routes to release the remaining books in the series as well as my other works.
With books 1-3 (The Shamed Ranger, A Legend Confirmed, and A Hidden King Found) I used a group called Newman Springs Publishing (a.k.a. NSP) to get those books ready for distribution and for actual distribution. NSP is what is commonly referred to as a “vanity publisher” because they publish works for a fee compared to traditional publishers who publish works typically with no upfront cost to the author. Being an unknown author, traditional publisher agreements can be hard to come by so I opted for NSP’s services to bring my books to the masses.
At the start of it all, NSP was aware that I had multiple books in need of publication. Armed with that knowledge, the folks at NSP made an interesting offer, the first book would be 1 cost and then each subsequent book would be done at a reduced cost. It was sold to me as a repeat customer discount for using NSP’s services for multiple books.
Book 1 was released and the price quoted was paid. So far everything was as sold and I opted to proceed with submitting Book 2 to NSP for publication. The price quoted was once again what was sold to me initially as part of my repeat customer discount. The fees paid, the book was published, and things seemed to be on track for our continued partnership.
Then Book 3 was submitted.
Book 3 was accepted by NSP, which I can’t imagine they decline many submissions if the authors are paying for the services. But when I was sent the contract from NSP for Book 3 I noticed the price was higher than the price for Book 2. The discount looked like it was still there compared to the price of Book 1 but the discount was not as much as it had been before. When I questioned my “publishing director” at NSP, she explained that they had raised their prices for their services but the discount was still applied to the total cost due to my repeat business with them.
I wasn’t thrilled with the change in pricing but it wasn’t too bad. One of the reasons I chose to use NSP for my publishing needs was because of this repeat customer discount. NSP offered similar services as many other vanity publishers but at a rate that was more affordable to me, especially with the discount applied over the 6 books written in the Ascension Legacy series. The increase in price even after the discount had been applied still represented a savings compared to others but the fact that the change had occurred left me questioning my interest in continuing to use NSP’s services.
With Book 3 recent release, I submitted Book 4 to NSP. I was hopeful that the price would still be agreeable but given the change from Book 2 to Book 3 in pricing made me skeptical. A few weeks later I got an email back from my latest publishing director indicating that they had “accepted” my submission and the email contained the new publishing contract agreement.
I reviewed the contract and was astounded to see the pricing included at the end of the contract. The agreement offered a few different publishing packages, which isn’t unusual, but the cheapest package on offer was practically the same price as what I paid for Book 1’s publication. And nowhere in the contract did it make any mention of any discount or repeat customer pricing. There was just the costs of each package available which for all I knew was the standard costs.
I immediately emailed my publishing director to inquire at the costs and whether or not they reflected my returning customer discount. After a few days I got a reply back that the discount was no longer available but that their new pricing model reflected an increase in their costs but was still lower than my cost for Book 1 (but only by like $100).
After getting the initial contract and my publishing director’s response regarding the lack of the discount that had been part of my original agreement, I replied to my publishing directory to politely voice my concerns over the changes and to advise them that without that discount that I would likely look for alternative publishing options.
Surprisingly, the publishing director in question did not feel the need to reply. After using their services to publish 3 books, my current publishing director felt that my concerns regarding their vanishing discount that had been part of what sold me on their services and their increase in prices did not warrant any reply. That deliberate silence and lack of conversation on the topic really made me feel unvalued as a customer to NSP.
Since the release of Book 1, I have talked to numerous individual who had done more independent self-publishing of books. This means they find independent editors, cover artists, or whatever help they need to get their books published without the need of any publishing agent or company. Given NSP’s increase in prices, dissolving the discount that had helped to sell me on their services, the quality of work produced for those prices, and the lack of communication from NSP, I began to explore what those options could look like for me.
If self-publishing works for others then it might can work for me but only if it meets my standards of quality while fitting my budget. But don’t get me wrong, I am not looking for champagne quality on a beer budget. I know these services cost money and I’m prepared to pay it but have seen where others have done self-publishing only to have a final product quality less than what I hope to achieve. It really will boil down to how much money I’m willing to invest in my books and my choices in who I choose to hire for any work and that’s the trick, knowing who to hire and what is a fair rate for their work.
Book 4 will get released one way or the other. I still have my agreement for Book 4 with NSP that I can sign and use but frankly, I am beginning to think that I can generate just as good of a book as the first 3 books in the series at a reduced cost compared to NSP’s offerings.
Nothing has been decided yet on how I will proceed with the next book but I am definitely giving heavy consideration to abandoning NSP and moving to 100% self-publishing.